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Imran Khan released from jail: official

Pakistani authorities free the hunger-striking cricket legend from prison, who had been detained last week.

world Updated: Nov 22, 2007 02:23 IST

Cricketer-turned-politician Imran Khan was on Wednesday released from the Dera Gazi Khan jail in Punjab province but was continuing his hunger strike for the reinstatement of judges deposed under the emergency.

Sheikh Inamur Rehman, the head of the prison, said that Khan had been released on the orders of the provincial government. "He has been freed," Rehman said.

Admiral (retd) Jawaid Iqbal, additional secretary general of Khan's Tehreek-e-Insaaf, said leaders of the party plan to meet Khan either late on Wednesday night or Thursday morning to persuade him to end his fast which he began in the prison on Sunday.

"We will try to convince him to end the hunger strike for now and decide on the future course of action against the emergency," he said.

Khan was among the political leaders targeted for arrest hours after Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf imposed emergency on November 3, but managed to escape from his home near Islamabad and went into hiding in Lahore.

He had been detained in Dera Ghazi Khan Jail for the last one week after being arrested by the police when he went to join a students' rally against the state of emergency in the eastern city of Lahore.

A former Pakistan cricket captain who led the country to the 1992 World Cup victory, Khan was detained under anti-terrorism laws. He had gone on a hunger strike to protest his detention and the emergency in the country and also stopped taking water from Tuesday.

"He had refused to take even liquid despite doctor's advise and was ill but in high spirits and protesting the emergency," his sister Alima Khan said in Lahore.

"We're all very relieved, especially since this means he can now end his hunger strike," his ex-wife, Jemima Khan, told AP in London.

"He's keen to make the point that although he's free, there are many more innocent people who are still in jail ... he'll now be able to protest more actively again."

First Published: Nov 21, 2007 20:27 IST